The new Distinguished Warfare Medal, created to recognize drone pilots and troops engaged in cyber warfare from afar, outranks the Bronze Star with Valor device and should be lowered in precedence, according to a local three-time recipient of the Purple Heart.
Danny M. Francis, 463 Harris Drive, Watertown, who was wounded three times during two tours in Vietnam as an enlisted infantryman and infantry platoon commander, said that while he will likely keep the 15 decorations he was awarded during 20 years of active duty service — “I earned them and my country gave them to me” — he has contemplated boxing them up and sending them to the White House in protest over the new medal.
Mr. Francis, a retired Marine, doesn’t object to recognizing drone pilots and cyber warfare practitioners for their contributions to combat operations, but he does think that the Distinguished Warfare medal should be lower on the spectrum, perhaps with medals awarded to commend noncombat achievement.
“I’m not saying their job’s not important. In many cases it’s critical. But putting it at the same level of combat troops or combat supporting troops... It’s just not the same,” he said.
Mr. Francis said he understands that the face of warfare has changed — something the Secretary of Defense likely had in mind when he announced the creation of the new medal.
“I’ve seen firsthand how modern tools ... have changed the way wars are fought ... they’ve given our men and women the ability to engage the enemy and change the course of battle from afar,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said during a press conference Wednesday.